Kensington & Chelsea Festival | (Mostly) Free & (Mostly) Outdoors Arts Fest
Kensington and Chelsea might not be the first place you’d go to find street art.
But what these neighbourhoods lack in Shoreditch-level murals, they’re more than making up for with the return of this annual arts festival, in which dozens of local creatives take to the borough’s venues – and even to the streets themselves – with boundary-pushing performances, installations and more.
Most of the programme takes place outdoors, and is entirely free to rock up and watch. And it’s an eclectic line-up to say the least, from outdoor circus acts to a burlesque show… which you’re invited to attend nude. A few particularly tantalising highlights include:
- A public art trail to follow throughout the festival, featuring sculptures by the likes of Ai Weiwei and Misha Milovanovich;
- CODE – a show that combines bike stunts, live rap and parkour to explore county lines and knife crime;
- Earth and Sky – in which a troupe of aerial artists perform across a metal tightrope 8m above a live orchestra;
- Mars: War and Peace – Luke Jerram, the artist behind the Gaia globe and illuminated moon installations, unveils a new piece that’s out of this world – a giant, illuminated scale replica of Mars accompanied by a meditative soundtrack… NOTE: You’ll find it at St John the Baptist Church (W14 8AH) from 22nd – 30th July; All Saints’ Church (W11 1JS) from 31st July – 8th August; Jubilee Square (W8 7NX) from 10th – 13th August. It’s entirely free, but you need to pre-book tickets.
- Spurting Man – a totally silent clowning piece which culminates in a human fountain;
- The Swings – an aerial dance piece played out on giant musical swings (which you can try out between performances);
- Makeshifts & Realities – a triple bill of Edwardian feminist plays at the Finborough Theatre; and
- Boys in the Buff – a body positivity musical of boylesque, which includes a ‘clothing optional’ performance (as long as you bring a towel to sit on).
Sounds unusual… but they have a lot of big fans.
NOTE: The Kensington & Chelsea Festival 2023 runs throughout July and August. You can find out more, and book tickets for both free and paid performances, HERE.
Since you’re in the area… you may like to peruse our Chelsea guide